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While analyzing a student's written essay, I came across a short answer written in the past progressive. It included an echoed name instead of a pronoun.

Student's answer: Was Sarah happy? Yes, Sarah was.

Is it possible to use a specific name in a short answer, or is a pronoun to be used?

  • To me, this sort of answer would suggest that while Sarah may have been happy, there were other relevant people who were not. – linguisticturn May 2 '18 at 21:48
  • 'Is a pronoun to be used?' doesn't specify any constraints involved; it [wrongly] implies that there is a definitive answer here. The answer given is certainly grammatical. But, as linguisticturn implies, it is not in the usual style one would consider idiomatic for an unmarked response (because repeating a noun instead of substituting the relevant pronoun without a good reason is clumsy). If one is marking to single out Sarah in contrast to others present, or for some other reason, the sentence actually becomes the correct choice. Context is, as almost always, crucial. – Edwin Ashworth May 2 '18 at 22:25
  • In a spoken answer, you can achieve a similar implication by saying "she" with extra emphasis. – Barmar May 7 '18 at 19:34
  • What do you think a "pronoun" is, anyway? – Hot Licks Jun 2 '18 at 0:15
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Perfectly possible, elegant and euphonious. The repetition of her name adds emphasis.

Euphony :

1 : pleasing or sweet sound; especially : the acoustic effect produced by words so formed or combined as to please the ear 2 : a harmonious succession of words having a pleasing sound

Merriam Webster

  • Thank you very much, I am assuming that pragmatically, it is not common, to use a name instead of a pronoun. Thanks for your response Michael. – Chris Cantu May 2 '18 at 22:12
  • I'd say that it's more likely to be considered clumsy in normal unmarked conversation. – Edwin Ashworth May 2 '18 at 22:29
  • I tidied up your link (so you can see how it is done) and I added the actual pertinent meaning you were linking to. Feel free to undo if you wish. – Nigel J May 2 '18 at 22:48

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